Peripheral neuropathy is a common condition among patients with diabetes. It can be painful and cause burning and tingling in the feet. This condition can’t be reversed or cured, but it can be effectively managed by a variety of treatment options. Without proper treatment from an experienced podiatrist, peripheral neuropathy symptoms can worsen and may get so severe they become debilitating. Can peripheral neuropathy be cured?

Common Symptoms and Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy often causes burning, sharp, or shooting pain in the feet. While symptoms can vary in their intensity and be different for each patient, some common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Sensitivity to temperature or touch
  • Muscle weakness
  • Poor coordination

Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by diabetes as well as the following:

  • Nerve damage or trauma
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Alcoholism
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Infection
  • Inherited disorder
  • Tumor
  • Exposure to poison
  • Certain chemotherapy medications used to treat cancer

Treatment Options

While peripheral neuropathy cannot be reversed, it can be managed to prevent more serious foot problems. If you are experiencing signs of the condition, it is important to consult with a podiatrist for an evaluation. To diagnose the cause of peripheral neuropathy, the following may be done:

  • Physical exam
  • Nerve function tests
  • Imaging tests such as a CT scan or an MRI
  • Blood tests
  • Complete health history review
  • Nerve or muscle biopsy

Once the underlying cause of the neuropathy is determined, treatment options can be recommended. Since there is no cure for peripheral neuropathy, the goal of treatment is to manage the underlying cause of the condition and to treat and provide relief for any symptoms associated with it. In addition, proper treatment can help slow down the progression of the condition as well.

For those who are diabetic, treating peripheral neuropathy is especially important since there are numerous complications associated with diabetes. Since diabetes can cause poor circulation, wounds can be slower to heal or not heal at all. Any numbness or loss of sensation in the feet due to neuropathy can lead to bigger problems if there are injuries to the feet that go undetected. For example, an untreated wound can turn into a foot ulcer and lead to a serious infection, gangrene, or even amputation.

Treatment options for peripheral neuropathy often include lifestyle changes such as:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Doing daily checks of your feet
  • Quitting smoking and reducing alcohol use
  • Monitoring your blood sugar levels

Other treatments for peripheral neuropathy that may help to relieve pain and improve sensation

may include:

  • Pain relief medication. Over-the-counter pain medications can be used for mild neuropathy pain. For more severe pain, prescription-strength pain medication may be prescribed by your physician.
  • Topical creams. A topical cream containing an ingredient such as capsaicin or lidocaine may be used to provide temporary relief of pain.
  • Physical therapy. To help strengthen weak muscles, physical therapy may be prescribed to help regain movement and strength. 
  • Laser therapy. Laser therapy treatment can help stimulate cell repair and increase blood flow. Capital Podiatry offers Multi-wave Lock System (MLS) laser therapy to help relieve symptoms of nerve pain and to help slow down the progression of the condition. For some patients, MLS laser therapy has helped nerves regenerate and heal.
  • Surgery. If the underlying cause of the peripheral neuropathy is pressure on the nerves due to a tumor or other issue, decompression surgery may be needed to reduce the pressure or to free the trapped nerve.
  • Mobility aid. If the neuropathy is causing muscle weakness or poor coordination, a mobility aid such as a cane, walker, or wheelchair may be needed to help prevent falls.

Are You Experiencing Nerve pain in Alexandria, VA?

If you are looking for an expert on neuropathy,you should reach out to an experienced podiatrist. Foot pain is never something you just have to put up with. If your feet are aching, out of alignment, or just aren't holding up to the wear and tear of modern living, Capital Podiatry Associates can help. Our office provides a wide variety of advanced, effective treatment options for all kinds of painful conditions. Ready to schedule an appointment? We offer telemedicine and valet medicineContact us online or call our Alexandria office at 703-560-3773.

 

Leland T. Gilmore, DPM
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Dr. Leland Gilmore is a compassionate and experienced foot and ankle specialist.